Monday, September 14, 2015
Commissioner Zuzga to Run for Superior Court Judge
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Cynthia Zuzga told the MetNews Friday she is going to run for an open seat on the court in next June’s primary.
Zuzga, 60, said she decided “to give it my best shot” after having an application for judicial appointment on file for four years. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Lewis, the only candidate from the commissioner ranks to win a local judicial election last year, advised her to jump in early, she said.
To that end, she said, she has retained David Gould as her campaign consultant, and obtained endorsement from Lewis, from her Bellflower colleagues Lee Tsao and Deborah Sanchez, and from former District Attorney Steve Cooley. She has not yet calculated a campaign budget, she commented.
Zuzga was elected by the court’s judges as a commissioner in January 2006, after 22 years as a deputy district attorney.
She currently handles a traffic calendar in Bellflower, after having sat for four years in Central Arraignment Court downtown in the first court dedicated solely to implementation of the Criminal Justice Realignment Act.
The act provides for certain defendants to serve a term of parole, with violation hearings held in local courts, rather than at the state law. It was challenging, Zuzga said, because it was completely new to everyone involved.
Before that, she explained, she handled nearly “every typical commissioner assignment,” including misdemeanors, treatment courts, collections, small claims, and unlawful detainers.
As a deputy district attorney, she prosecuted hardcore gang members, sex crime defendants, and alleged participants in financial fraud; held general felony assignments in Long Beach, Compton, and downtown Los Angeles, as well as a misdemeanor post in Downey; and was assigned to the Eastlake juvenile court facility before moving to mental health.
She also prosecuted elder abuse cases and was the district attorney’s representative on the Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City Fiduciary Abuse Specialist Team, on which legal, law enforcement, mental health, gerontology, and financial services professionals work together on ways to protect senior citizens from being victimized.
She also worked on anti-gang civil injunction cases, including a successful action against the West Coast Crips, establishing nighttime curfews for members of the gang and barring them from using pagers, cell phones, or walkie-talkies within a 50-block area of North Long Beach.
Zuzga is a native of Michigan, having graduated from Michigan State University and Detroit College of Law, which was located in downtown Detroit “next to the house of prostitution,” she once quipped to a reporter. The school later became part of Michigan State University and relocated to East Lansing.
She acknowledged that as a former prosecutor who became a commissioner, she will be running for judge with a less valuable ballot designation than if she had stayed in her former post.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” she said. “But I do have the credentials.”
Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company